When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Disability Determination Process to determine if you are eligible to receive benefits. Here, the Social Security disability attorneys at Disability Associates provide an overview of the disability determination process to help you learn more about your eligibility for disability benefits.

Disability Claims are Processed Through the SSA and DDS

A majority of disability claims are processed through the SSA and Disability Determination Services (DDS) and are retrieved by telephone, mail, online filing or in person. DDS offices are funded by the federal government and are responsible for developing medical evidence in order to determine whether a claimant meets the proper requirements to be eligible for disability benefits.

Necessary applications require a description of the applicant’s impairments and medical treatments and SSA and DDS representatives are in charge of evaluating both the claimant’s forms and medical history to determine eligibility.

The Disability Determination Process is a Five-Step Process

The SSA utilizes a five-step process in order to determine whether a claimant is eligible to receive disability benefits. The process includes a series of questions used to collect necessary information regarding an applicant’s condition and work limitations:

Are You Working?

In order to receive benefits, you need to be able to prove that your disability is hindering your ability to make a living. If you are working and earn more than $1,000 a month, you are not considered disabled under the SSA guidelines.

Is Your Condition Severe?

In order to determine whether or not you are eligible to receive disability benefits, the SSA requires medical documentation declaring your condition meets the severity criteria required to receive aid. For your condition to meet the severity standards required by the SSA, it must inhibit your ability to work.

Is Your Condition Found on the List of Disabling Conditions?

In most instances, in order to meet the criteria for disability benefits, your condition has to be listed on the SSA list of disabilities. If your condition is not on the list, the SSA then has to compare the severity level of your condition to other conditions on the list to determine if its severity qualifies for disability benefits.

Can You Do the Work You Did Previously?

If you meet the first three criteria of the SSA’s five-step process, you are generally deemed eligible to receive aid. However, the fourth step of the disability determination process examines work history and whether you can return to your previous line of work with your disability. If the SSA deems your condition a challenge to adequately performing your previous work, yet not as severe as the impairments included in the SSA’s listing of impairments, they then assess your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is determined based on evidence collected regarding your condition and is used to assess what type of work you can perform with your limitations.

Can You Do Any Other Type of Work?

Lastly, the SSA determines your level of ability to complete other work by evaluating additional factors such as age, work experience and education. They can then note whether or not you need to obtain necessary assistance if needed.

Quick Disability Determination Process

The Quick Disability Determination Process allows some applicants to complete the necessary steps to obtaining aid much faster than the regular Disability Determination Process. This option is available for applicants with severe or terminal illnesses as well as those with compassionate allowance, among other exceptions and can normally be approved in as little as 15 to 20 days.

Speak to a Social Security Disability Attorney at Disability Associates About the Disability Determination Process

While countless individuals require disability benefits due to a severe condition or limitation that impedes them from returning to their previous line of work, the process of applying for aid can be confusing and time-consuming. The dedicated Social Security disability attorneys at Disability Associates have experience representing individuals who require aid in order to take care of themselves and their families and can help you determine whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits based on your circumstances. For more information on how the Social Security disability attorneys at Disability Associates can help you receive the benefits you deserve, contact us today.